I go to lots of networking events and I collect lots of business cards – these are useful as it provides a means of getting in touch with people who may become suppliers.  I also get lots of leaflets about services, forthcoming events and promotions – most of these end up in the paper-recycling bin.

The problem with leaflets is that they don’t ‘fit’ anywhere and end up cluttering the place up.  Also they’re usually paper, so they’re easy to scrunch up and throw away.  Quite apart from the issues around resources and environmental conservation, that’s your hard-earned cash that’s going in the bin.

It’s not only the cost of the paper and printing, but the design cost too.  If you’re grinning now because you designed it yourself and printed it off on your office printer (or photocopied it), I have one word for you – reputation!

Unless you happen to be a graphic designer most ‘home-made’ flyers and leaflets look like what they are – home-made.  And the subliminal message is ‘amateur’ or ‘cheap’, neither word is one you want associated with your business.

We’ve all done it and produced something in a hurry at the last minute for a networking event and hoped that nobody would ‘mind’.  They don’t mind, but they don’t value it either.  So you need to aim at the other end of the spectrum and put something of substance into their hands.

I like to have things printed on card, rather than paper.  It’s harder to scrunch up and chuck in the bin.

If you have some valuable tips printed on the reverse side, this is much more likely to be looked at than a paper document, which people tend not to turn over, you’re creating retainability (no, that’s not really a word, but you know what I mean).

Think about the size and shape of your document – how easy is it for people to carry?  A card that is one-third A4 and fits in a DL envelope, also fits easily in jacket pockets and bags or pops inside a notebook.  The tips mean it tends to stay around longer too.  It’s the next best thing to a promotional gift with your brand on it.

Do you really need to print?

If you’re trying to keep costs down without looking cheap, how about creating special web pages with the information on them and then giving out envelopes containing the links instead of using up lots of ink and paper creating leaflets?

In most cases people who are actually interested will be willing to look at a website.  Those who aren’t will take a leaflet anyway as they often think you will be offended if they don’t – and then dump it as soon as they get back to the office.

A low cost promotional item may be affordable.  In fact, when you add up the design, printing and paper costs, it may even cost less.  Talk to a promotional gifts specialist who will come up with all kinds of clever ideas – and you’ll be much more memorable than dishing out a piece of paper.

What other creative ways can you think of that will capture the people who are genuinely interested without having to distribute a tree every time you run a promotion?